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Cape council supports Del Prado light

By Staff | Feb 28, 2012

The City Council doesn’t care that the Board of County Commissioners has made its decision on a traffic light at the intersection of Del Prado and Northeast 3rd Terrace. The Cape is going to try to change the county’s mind.

The council unanimously passed a resolution to send a letter to the commission urging it to reconsider its decision not to put a traffic light at an intersection where 13 year old Ryan Santos was hit by a car and killed crossing Del Prado on his way to Burton Memorial Park nearly two years ago.

The decision drew applause from the gallery, which included the parents of Santos, as well as family and friends.

The BOCC, which makes the decisions on where traffic lights go because Del Prado is a county road, made the decision although a local gas station offered to pay the bill to have the light installed.

The commission has instead made plans to put concrete medians in to stop left turns onto Del Prado, saying signals are meant to give drivers a chance to pass through an intersection, not protect pedestrians.

That notion was rejected by Kimberly Sayer of the Sayer Group, who said the commission’s plan would only make matters worse.

“The new plan would actually decrease pedestrian safety. A traffic light and crosswalk is the answer,” Sayer said.

She also added that the closest light and crosswalk is a half-mile down the road, more than any normal person would walk.

The Race Trac gas station has offered to foot the $300,000 bill to install the light.

Cape Coral Councilmember Chris Chulakes-Leetz repeated the words he said at the company-sponsored information session from Friday, saying, “They should call it the island of death.”

Chulakes-Leetz added that he did his own research and tried to cross the street in that area.

“In a 20-minute period, there were two brief interruptions in traffic where I could have taken the chance and crossed,” Chulakes-Leetz said. “I’m in reasonable shape. How about someone who isn’t?”

Councilmember Marty McClain was the only one with reservations, although he did ultimately support the motion.

“If the light stays green, you’ll have pedestrians try to challenge the light. It’s a safety issue because of the park,” McClain said. “The engineers at the end of the day are the decision makers. It has to be studied.”

Councilmember Kevin McGrail thought McClain’s concerns were unfounded.

“The light would add to the timing parameters. Putting a light there would let pedestrians cross safely,” McGrail said. “It’s an offer we should take. For the Santos family, it’s too late.”